I read ‘The Red Shoes’ story for the hundredth time as Chloe drifted off to sleep. It was by far her favourite and for Christmas last year I had bought a tiny pair of red slippers for her. It was the revised, modern version and far different to grisly fairy tale which had terrified me as a child.
I was on the couch channel surfing as my mind drifted back to the original story. The little girl had coveted and worshipped a pair of red leather shoes that became cursed, forcing her to dance until she begged the executioner to cut off her feet. The story was about the dangers of vanity and obsession.
I slid off the couch and wandered around the house. Chloe’s dad wasn’t due back for at least three hours. He was out on another business cocktail party. He had confided once how much of a bore they were and I imagined him feeling out of place, a little uncomfortable in his charcoal suit and well-pressed shirts. He’d be home after midnight with the slightest scent of whisky mixed in with his cologne.
I’d worked for him for almost a year, babysitting Chloe once or twice a week. In the beginning he had been so stern and serious, frightening almost. He was very strict with Chloe and had a list of rules a metre long. Even though he’d relaxed considerably I still made sure the house was neat before he arrived home. He was the kind of man who liked things to be just ‘so’ and I wanted him to be pleased with me.
We would go through the same routine each night when he arrived. His car would purr quietly into the garage, I would turn on the porch light and before I opened the door, I’d smooth my hair in the hallway mirror and straighten my clothes. As I heard his footsteps on the gravel path I’d open the door for him and stand to the side as he walked into the hall. He’d put his briefcase on the hallway table in exactly the same place and I would notice his masculine yet manicured fingers grasping the handle and then opening the locks. He would politely inquire about my day, his eyes never wavering from my face as I replied that it had been fine. He would pay for the evening, say Thank you in a most business like fashion and I would get in a cab to go home.
I imagined that as I walked away from him he would watch me. He would look at my stockinged legs under the skirts I had started wearing and notice my hair done neatly, as I thought he would want it to be. He would linger in the hallway and smell the last traces of my perfume. Then he would walk to his bathroom, shower, dry himself with the thick white towels folded so perfectly by the housekeeper, and slide naked under the crisp white sheets of his bed. Often I would imagine returning to the house, waiting on the bed for him while he showered. Other times I’d fantasise that he would push me up against the wall in the hallway, dominating or disciplining me. By the time the taxi arrived home I would be flushed and more than a little wet. I would get out of the cab, head straight for my bed or the couch and fantasise about how we would fuck while I masturbated.
Tonight, with three hours to kill, I walked through the house silently, cataloguing the details of his life that would later feed into my fantasies. Most nights I opened the lid on his bottle of cologne and imagined that I was breathing the scent from his neck. I would look in his wardrobe, at the shirts pressed perfectly and open the drawers to find his underwear and socks folded so neatly. It was like a game to replace everything in exactly the right position. I had toyed with the idea of letting him catch me in the act, imagining his rage and how punishing me would turn him on.
I left his bedroom and padded across the polished timber floor to the study. I loved the smell of the leather seat and the dark wood of his expansive desk. His walls were lined with heavy books, alphabetically arranged and perfectly aligned. I was surprised to see his laptop open on the desk. It was usually closed and unplugged from the wall.
I sat on his chair, enveloped by the soft leather that moulded to my skin perfectly. I leaned back and put my arms on the armrests, facing the blank screen. The tiny green LED signalled the laptop was still turned on. I sat luxuriating in the soft leather of the chair for a few minutes before I inhaled slowly and rolled my finger over the mouse button.
The screen flickered on and I was bathed in the light blue glow of the desktop. His calendar opened, showing his schedule for the week. It was unsurprisingly organised and practical. Gym and a personal training session at 6a.m followed by a string of meetings and then the cocktail party. There was little of interest so I closed the calendar. Feeling suddenly bold I clicked the Internet Explorer icon. I was just going to have a little look, and then stop. I knew I shouldn’t but I couldn’t help myself. Just one look. I could feel heat rising in my cheeks and between my legs. He’d never left his laptop open before, let alone had it switched on.
The clock in the corner chimed quietly and I bit my lip hard in shock. Ten chimes. Two more hours till he came home. My breathing settled down as I turned to look at the screen again.
Connected, I scrolled through his home page, set to The Bureau of Meteorology. So typically accurate and prepared. After only a brief pause I activated the History listing.
And there it was. The window in to him. The clue I had longed to find, the key to his inner, secret self.
Internet dating. I was in way to deep now, but I wasn’t turning back. I had lusted over the mundane details of his life, everything from the brands of washing liquid and underwear to kitchen utensils had been meticulously etched in my mind, yet it revealed so little of what I was really after. I was desperate for the frayed edges, the mess and the insecurities that betray who really are. The intimacy of this moment was overwhelming. My clit throbbed and my nipples chafed inside my bra. Being this close to him was erotic beyond my imaginings.
I opened his profile. He had called himself Phineas. Phineas the prophet of ancient Greek mythology, who was condemned to have his liver feasted on by harpies for an eternity. In all the time I had known him he had never hinted that he suffered, that he was at the mercy of another. To me he was always controlled and complete. I had to know more.
Phineas had listed his interests as Antique Furniture restoration, Rachmaninov, Exotic Orchids, Aubrey Beardsley and French Cabaret of the 1920s.
His described himself as Decadent, Hedonistic, Pleasure driven, Destructive and a Sensualist.
He identified as Bisexual.
I read the messages he had received and then I read the messages he had sent, unravelling conversations held in the peculiar safety of strangers. I read of how he longed to escape, to explore, to entice and be enslaved. Of rage and suffering, passion and betrayal.
Bisexual. I rolled the word inside my mouth. Sexual, sex, bisexual… Decadent, and Hedonistic. Thoughts of him with a man, then in a threesome, then with a woman blazed through my mind. I shivered in pleasure as I imagined myself part of a writhing orgy, licking breasts while my hands held his stiffened shaft. His cock would sink in to me… he himself would be penetrated. My feet were up on the seat, knees drawn up against my chest. As one hand navigated the screen the other found its way to the fabric stretched over my pussy as I rubbed a circle over the tip of my clit.
I remembered the greenhouse at the very back of the yard and the pots of blooms elegantly arrayed on the windowsills of the house. I had always considered his cultivation of orchids to be particularly clinical and sterile. The thought of him delicately pollinating exotic hybrids seemed so much more sensual now, erotic even.
I thought back to art classes and Aubrey Beardsley, the afflicted genius with rapacious wit, with his immaculate drawings of perversion, desire, vanity and obsession. The perfect black line drawings of ferocious women, The Hydra, the witches and the courtesans, who tormented and destroyed men.
I licked my fingers to taste myself before I slid my hand back down under the waist band of my skirt and between my now wet thighs. I leaned back in the chair and closed my eyes as I focussed on the feeling of my fingers circling my lips and teasing my clit. I craved the feeling of his tongue and his hands on my body, I longed to be corrupted, drained and destroyed by the lust that had burned inside me for so long.
My body ached for release but I held back, digging nails into my thigh as my I tried to slow my breathing. I willed myself to relax and be patient. I had to be his.
I unfolded myself from the chair, and shut down the computer. I walked to the bathroom and stepped neatly out of my clothes. I felt intoxicated by the moment and the irrationality of my actions. I opened the bathroom cupboards, knowing exactly where to find everything I would need. The bath filled steadily and the oils I added to the water released their fragrance into the billowing steam clouds. I slid into the bath as the hot water seared my skin. I scrubbed vigorously knowing I needed to be clean for him, needed to be perfect. I drained the bath and dried myself thoroughly. I unpinned my hair and combed it straight so it cascaded over my shoulders. Then I rubbed moisturising lotion onto my hands and massaged my skin, allowing myself to luxuriate briefly in the feeling of the lotion sinking into the soft skin of my breasts and thighs.
With neither clothes nor concern I paced silently through the house knowing that Chloe was safely asleep. I turned on the front light but left the door locked.
I was compelled by a source beyond reason, beyond all logic. I had spent so many nights twisted in dreams of him and now the constant, steady burn had spread and erupted inside me. Completely, totally, insanely uncontrollable.
I collected the long wax tapers that were kept in the bottom drawer of the kitchen. I took the matches and the silver candlesticks from the dining room. From the spare bedroom I gathered up pillows and blankets.
This was madness, this was suicide, and it was everything I had longed for. I was prepared for him to deny me, for embarrassment and crying. What kept me going was what I had read of him. Even if he turned me away and never saw me again I knew the truth about him now. This flood that had spilled inside me could never be contained.
I entered the immaculate green house. I lit the candles, melted the bases and inserted the long tapers into the candlestick holders. The green house glowed like a lantern as the flickering candles steadied and illuminated the cold panes of glass. I laid a blanket over the workbench in the centre of the room. I returned to the house and collected two glasses and the whisky decanter.
Quarter to twelve. The clock hands scissored over the yellowed clock face. I shut the back door and re-entered the green house. I felt nervous as I paused to look at the bench with the blanket draped over it. I stepped up to the bench and pulled a second blanket around my shoulders. Reclining back on the pillows, I took a long sip of the bitter tasting whisky. The panic dissolved as the golden liquid warmed the inside of my throat and stilled the shaking in my hands.
I lay back on the bench and let my fingers caress the soft skin of my neck and my breasts. My hands traced over my stomach and my hips. I let them slide down between my thighs. I was already swollen and wet, almost painfully so. He would see all this and he would know. He would know everything.
My fingers worked in achingly slow circles. With my eyes shut and my breathing coming in strained gasps I rocked back and forth on the bench.
I only barely registered the sound of the car pulling into the garage and his firm footsteps on the gravelled path.